Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Bradwood and Hunt Creek, Oregon"
Includes ... Bradwood ... Hunt Creek ... Hunt's Mill ...
Image, 2012, Bradwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Gated road to Bradwood, Oregon. Image taken September 22, 2012.

Bradwood ...
Bradwood and nearby Clifton, Oregon, are two communities from a bye-gone era and are located approximately at Columbia River Miles (RM) 38 and 36 respectively. In the late 1800s Clifton was once a thriving fishing community and cannery location. Bradwood, located on Hunt Creek, was a booming lumber town. Upstream is Aldrich Point and downstream is the community of Wauna. Tenasillahe Island lies across the Clifton Channel from Clifton and Tenasillahe and Puget Island can be seen from Bradwood.

Hunt Creek ...
Hunt Creek is a small drainage which enters the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) _____. It was the location of "Hunt's Mill", the first sawmill in the area, built in 1844. In 1930 the timber community of Bradwood was developed at this location. Hunt Creek was named for Henry H. Hunt, the pioneer sawmill operator whose mill began operations at Hunts Mill Point.

Sawmill on the Lower Columbia ...
There was a sawmill known as "Hunt's Mill" built in 1843-1844 on Hunt Creek, today the location of Bradwood. According to the Spokesman-Review" in 1895 (article below), this was the first sawmill built on the Columbia River. Not quite accurate as the Hudson's Bay Company had built three sawmills between 1828 and 1843 near Fort Vancouver, Washington. According to S.B. Smith in 1900 (article below), "Hunt Mill" was the first sawmill in Clatsop County. Still need to check out this information (2012).

From "The Spokesman-Review", Friday, November 22, 1895, "Clatsop Pioneers"

"P.W. Gillette writes to the Oregonian regarding old days in Clatsop county. The following extracts are taken from the article:

H.H. Hunt and Ben Woods crossed the plains in 1843, but did not go to Clatsop until 1844, when they built "Hunt's mill". This was the first sawmill ever built on the Columbia river. It stood near the place now known as Clifton (J.W. & V. Cook's cannery), and I think they own the old millsite. Mr. Hunt selected this place on account of the water power there. He hauled the mill irons for this mill across the plains, which, considering the great distance, the many dangers and almost insurmountable obstacles to meet and overcome, the road in many places to locate and build, was an Herculean task to perform. The old French ship Sylvia de Grass, early in 1850, loaded with lumber at this mill for San Francisco. On her way down the river, at high tide, she struck on a sunken rock, a short distance above Upper Astoria, and when the tide fell the ship's back was broken. Her great hulk hung on this rock more than a quarter of a century, a mournful signal of the hidden danger. Had she made quick dispatch, her cargo of lumber would have brought the enormous sum of $150 to $200 per 1000 feet. A government buoy now marks the danger spot, and the old Sylvia de Grasse, as well as the old mill, are forever gone."

From: Smith, S.B., 1900, "Beginnings in Oregon, IN: Oregon Historical Society, Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, vol.1, p.92:

"The first sawmill built in Clatsop County, Oregon, was the one known as the "Hunt Mill". It was completed in the summer of 1844. They began work on it in the last days of 1843. The site was on a little stream about four hundred yards back from the Columbia River, and about one and one-half miles above where the Clifton cannery now stands, nearly opposite Cathlamet of today. (The ancient or original Cathlamet was just above the site of the mill on the same side of the river.) Henry H. Hunt and Ben Wood were proprietors; one Edward Otey was the millwright; it was run by water power; ...   Most of the lumber cut was from twelve to twenty-four feet long, but could cut out thirty feet in length. The cutting capacity was from three thousand to five thousand feet a day. When water was high, by running night and day, it would turn off ten thousand feet in twenty-four hours. ...   A large part of the lumber made at this mill was exported to California and the Sandwich Islands. ...

Hunt Creek in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"US 30 twists down to HUNT CREEK, 80.7 m., then climbs a spur from which a desolate waste of logged over land extends in all directions. A high, sharply etched mountain (L), with sides bare of vegetation, shows teh results of unreestricted timber cutting."

Early Bradwood ...
"The Bradley-Woodard Lumber Company was incorporated July 15, 1930, and one of its activities was the development of a mill and community on the south bank of the Columbia River about two miles upstream from Clifton. The name of the new town, Bradwood, was made synthetically from the name of the company. After the supply of large, old-growth timber was exhausted, the mill closed permanently in June 1962. A major fire in 1965 destroyed most of the facilities, and by 1984 only five residents remained. Bradwood post office was established April 17, 1931, and closed along with the mill."

Source:    MacArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press

Image, 2012, Bradwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bridge crossing Hunt Creek, Bradwood, Oregon. View from road at gate. Image taken September 22, 2012.

Views from the Clifton Road ...

Image, 2012, Columbia River from Clifton Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River as seen from the Clifton Road, Oregon. In the distance Tenasillahe Island is to the left and Puget Island is to the right. The settlements of Clifton would be left (downstream) and Bradwood would be right (upstream). Clifton Channel is in the middleground, left. Jetty visible on right juts off Tenasillahe Island. Image taken September 22, 2012.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 25, 1806 ...
Last night and this morning are cool wend hard a head and tide going out, after an early brackfast we proceeded on [from their camp near Aldrich Point] about 4 miles and came too on the south side to worm and dry our Selves a little. Soon after we had landed two Indians Came from a War kia cum village on the opposite Side with 2 dogs and a fiew Wappato to Sell neither of which we bought. Som Clatsops passed down in a Canoe loaded with fish and Wappato. as the wind was hard a head and tide against us we Concluded to delay untill the return of the tide which we expected at 1 oClock, at which hour we Set out ...     we crossed over to an Island [Puget Island] on which was a Cath lahmah fishing Camp of one Lodge; here we found <one> 3 man two woman and a couple of boys who must have for Some time for the purpose of taking Sturgeon which they do by trolling. they had 10 or 12 very fine Sturgeon which had not been long taken; [White Sturgeon] ...     we remained at this place about half an hour and then Continued our rout. the winds in the evening was verry hard, it was with Some dificuelty that we Could find a Spot proper for an encampment, the Shore being a Swamp for Several miles back; at length late in the evening opposit to the place we had encamped on the 6th of Novr. last [near Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County]; we fouond the enterance of a Small Creek [one of the many mouths/sloughs/drainages of the Clatskanie River system, near Wallace Island and Wallace Slough] which offered us a Safe harbour from the Winds and Encamped. the Ground was low and moist tho' we obtained a tolerable encampment. here we found another party of Cathlahmahs about 10 in number, who had established a temporary residence for the purpose of fishing and takeing Seal ...     here we found Drewyer and the 2 Fields' who had been Seperated from us Since Morning; they had passed on the North Side of the large Island [Puget Island] which was much nearest. the bottom lands are Covered with a Species of Arspine, the Growth with a broad leaf which resembles ash except the leaf. the under brush red willow, broad leafed Willow, Seven bark, Goose berry, Green bryor, and the larged leaf thorn; the latter is Now in blume, the nativs inform us that it bears a <leaf> fruit about an Inch in diamieter which is a good to eate. the red willow and 7 bark begin to put foth their leaves. The green bryor which I have before mentioned retains leaves all winter. made 15 Miles.

Journey to the PacificReturn to




*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

  • Friedman, R., 1990, "In Search of Western Oregon", The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho;
  • MacArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2012, "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon";

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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September 2012